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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ready or not, Here We Go to Kindergarten!

Haven’t blogged in awhile. We’ve been busy this summer and working on some decisions about the upcoming school year that I didn’t want to share on here. I purposefully didn’t share what was going on because I know there are strong opinions on both sides of the picture and it was a decision that I needed to make myself without any outside input. Finally reached a decision and I’m feeling really good about it.

Our big decision is to send Mari to Kindergarten this year. She will one day shy of 4 years and 5 months old. I originally blew off our pediatrician’s suggestion to petition the school system for early entry. I felt comfortable with where we at and what we were doing. Then, in the course of some general playtime, I discovered that Mari knew how to add – actually, when I asked her if she knew what math was, she sat down and wrote herself a worksheet of addition problems complete with + and = signs and then solved them. I was speechless. I showed her how to subtract and she caught on to that like wildfire. Coupled with the fact that she was moving through her reading levels at school at a quick rate, I began to research just what is necessary to be “Kindergarten ready”.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding K starting age and there are people with all kind of opinions regarding it. What I’ve found through my research (and asking people that I trust) is that it is a very individual thing. Most people will say that being the youngest in your grade is a disadvantage except that everyone that I’ve spoken with that started early (before age deadlines were strict) said it really wasn’t a big deal. There is also a movement over the last decade supporting holding children back until they are six. But new studies are showing that this doesn’t necessarily help children unless there is a specific delay. It’s a pretty mixed bag….what it all boils down to is the individual child and their needs.

Some of the things that qualify a child to be “Kindergarten ready” really surprised me. I guess from the standpoint that I was surprised that most kids aren’t ready to do them by Kindergarten. But then again, my child has been in daycare/preschool for over 3 years now and the school she is at now is very structured. I’ll explain more about our choice of schools in the next post but I’ll just mention that the current class she is in for preK is more structured than the public K and even 1st grade that I visited.

Some of the things that deem a child as Kindergarten ready include: able to stand/walk in line of children, able to be a line leader, able to sit for periods of 15 minutes to listen to a story or do seat work, able to change activities with minimal redirection, able to follow 2-3 step instructions, able to feed oneself, able to handle bathroom activities themselves. None of these should be a problem. Mari does tend to be a jumping bean when it comes to sitting for activities but only if she’s bored…if she has something to focus on, she is fine.

As for the academic readiness, that’s a whole different ball of wax. Things that are considered K-ready include:
*Recognizing and writing first name - she can do her whole name as well as most of her friends and teachers
*Counting objects to 20 – She can count to 138 (the highest I’ve listened to), she can count to 100 by 2s, she can write all her numbers up to 100 if called out randomly, she can add and subtract as long as she has enough fingers and toes for the problem.
*Recognizing basic colors – She’s known her colors since she was 18 months old.
*Recognizing and drawing basic shapes – Not a problem.
*Recognizing some letters and their sounds – She can read most Level 1 books and has short and long vowels down. She’s pretty good at sounding out words phonetically when trying to write them. (Like she wrote Perry the Platypus as "Paree the Platdepos".)

Sooo…..we went and had her evaluated at the public school (again, more on school choice later) and they assessed her to be at a high level of K/going into 1st grade level. The reading specialist said (and I quote) “She read better than any of the incoming Kindergarteners I’ve assessed this year, she’s way ahead of most of them.” That was 3 months and several reading levels ago.

I’ve had to question my motivation for placing Mari in K early. It comes down to keeping her happy and motivated. She LOVE LOVE LOVES doing schoolwork and worksheets; she will turn off the TV (her love) to do math problems. We read together all the time and the worst punishment I can give her is to take away evening book time. I come from the background of being one of the smartest kids in my class – never having enough to keep me busy or challenged, always being the outcast for ruining the curve or always getting the best grades. I don’t really want Mari to be in that position. She’s still going to be super smart even if we start her early but I want her to have to work and stay focused. You can already see the difference in her behavior when she’s bored vs. keeping her mind busy.

Is she ready to climb on a school bus and ride 45 minutes to elementary school, stay focused in a class of 20-25 kids, stay safe in a school of several hundred, ride the bus home 45 minutes? No! But is she mature enough to handle a small Kindergarten class with kids she already knows and a teacher she already loves, using a curriculum that has already proven to be outstanding? Yes!

So we start Kindergarten in less than one week. Help!


Nevididi said...

I think that is awesome! I remember being in second grade and being so bored because I already knew how to do everything or caught on really quick. I was always the first one done and always getting into trouble because I was so bored. I think it is a good thing to start kids early if they are individually ready. If she waits she may struggle more behavior wise if she is bored for the next twelve years lol. Way to go Mari

one + one said...

That's amazing! I'm still reeling by how much she knows BEFORE starting kindergarten. From everything you said, sounds like a great choice for your family.

Leslie said...

How exciting for you guys! Is she excited about school?

Aunt Yvonne said...

Hooray for you!! I have experienced the needing to start early with to children. We were refused. One ended up skipping a grade and the other we pulled out to homeschool and graduated at 16. School should not be according to age.
PROUD OF YOU for doing what's best for your child.
Aunt Yvonne

Jennifer said...

How exciting!!! That Mari's a genius!! :-) I can't wait to hear about all her K adventures. I teach in a district where the trend is to hold kids another year...for some kids it's good, but for most, I think it's quite unnecessary. It is an individual decision & she sounds more than ready!!

The Taylor Family said...

How wonderful! I bet she is excited!!! She is such a superstar, and she is going to achieve so much (already has!)!

Hope you are doing well. Will your work hours change in order to accommodate the new Kindergarten schedule?

Don't think we'll make VA beach this year. Thanks though. We'd love to meet up with you sometime!

Anonymous said...


I've been a lurker on your blog for a while. Mari reminds me of my daughter from Ethiopia a lot!

I wanted to make sure you had heard about a new Yahoo group for gifted children who were adopted. In addition to the cognitive stuff going on, it's totally normal for gifted kids to feel deeply and have some pretty intense emotions. We discuss both the academic and emotional stuff on this Yahoo group, which you can find here:

Congrats on kindergarten! I look forward to continuing to follow along. :)

Sally said...

Thank you. Thank you researching, thank you for using logic, thank you for making a decision based on what is best for your child and your family. You rock! Here's to hoping Mari has a great school year - and that you can manage to not shed too many tears about your baby growing up so fast :)